John Walker: Incoming Tide

16 October - 14 November 2009

Small Paintings from Seal Point, Maine


An exhibition of fifty of John Walker's 'bingo card paintings'. This was Walker's first solo exhibition to be held in the UK for 24 years. Born in Birmingham, England, Walker has lived and worked in Australia and the USA. He is currently Professor of Graduate Painting at Boston University.

When John Walker moved into a new studio in Walpole, Maine, USA he discovered hundreds of abandoned bingo cards dating from the building's history as a community centre in the 1950s. He used these as the basis for a series of small scale paintings, each measuring 7 by 5 inches. The Seal Point Series, as the works are collectively known, brilliantly reflect the constantly changing weather, light and tidal patterns along the coast of Maine where Walker has spent summers for the past 25 years. Their size marks a radical change for an artist who is renowned for painting on large-scale canvases.

Used for bingo - or beano as it is called in that region of the United States - the cards have a random selection of numbers on one side and are plain black on the other. "I think they date from the 1950s when the building was used as a community centre," said Walker. "I was going to throw them all out and had put them into plastic bags to take them to the dump and then I thought 'I may be able to do something with them'. I paint outside most of the time and so they are a handy size to take with me."

Walker originally planned to paint on the black sides of the cards but then realised that the shapes of the numbers were similar to some forms found in nature and could be incorporated into the paintings. The result is a stunningly beautiful record of the changing winds and shifting tides in just one place on America's northeast coastline.